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Lawmakers introduce measure to ban high-capacity magazines

This July 26, 2012 file photo shows an AR-15 style rifle. (Photo by Alex Brandon/AP)
This July 26, 2012 file photo shows an AR-15 style rifle.

A group of lawmakers introduced a measure in Washington on Thursday that aims to end the sale of large-capacity ammunition, used by mass shooters in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; Tucson, Arizona; and Fort Hood, Texas.

Co-sponsors Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, both Democrats, unveiled the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. The bill would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

"The only thing more senseless than the gun violence that has taken too many of our nation's children and countless innocent Americans is the failure of Congress to pass common sense gun safety measures, like this one, that are supported by 90 percent of the American public," Menendez said.

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High-capacity magazines can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition. During the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the gunman used a 30-round high-capacity magazine to fire 154 shots in less than five minutes. He killed 20 first-graders and six educators. Eleven students escaped because the gunman had to pause to reload his gun. Supporters argue the new bill could save lives by forcing potential future shooters to change magazines more often.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning large-capacity ammunition.

Several gun-control advocates joined Esty and Menendez during their afternoon press conference, including House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and advocates from the Newtown Action Alliance. The measure also includes the authorization of buyback program for high-capacity magazines.

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For almost two years, Congress has been in a stalemate about gun-safety legislation, following the failure of the Senate to pass a comprehensive and bipartisan background checks bill in April 2013. In that time, nearly 100 school shootings have occurred on American soil, the FBI says mass shootings are on the rise, and active-shooter and lockdown drills have become part of children’s academic routines. A review of 62 mass shootings in a 20-year span found that large-capacity ammunition magazines were used in half of the incidents.

Ten families that were affected by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, filed a lawsuit in December against Bushmaster for making, distributing, and selling the AR-15 rifle. The action alleges negligence and wrongful death.